March 11, 2008
(Recap courtesy of cyclones.com)
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - When Iowa State is on its three-point game, even the loss of its two highly-touted post players to injury this season makes the Cyclones a real problem for opposing teams. In the first game of the Big 12 Tournament Tuesday at Municipal Auditorium, Colorado never found a solution to the problem. Red-hot guard Heather Ezell made seven-of-11 three-point attempts and finished with 25 points as Iowa State routed Colorado 76-50. Eighth-seeded ISU will play top-seeded league champion Kansas State Wednesday at noon.
"I don't know how we could have played any better," Iowa State head coach Bill Fennelly said. "Ezell was outstanding today. We shot the ball well and that is what we need to do to keep winning. This team wanted to keep playing."
The Cyclones' best performance of the season came when Iowa State needed it most. ISU is 19-11 and feeling more comfortable about a possible NCAA Tournament berth, despite losing both Nicky Wieben (12.7 ppg/5.6 rpg) after 16 games and Toccara Ross (6.4 ppg/3.7 rpg) after nine contests this season. Colorado is now 16-14.
Ezell tied the Big 12 Championship single-game record for successful three-point shots with seven and broke her own single-game first-round record of five. The Cyclones' 14 three-point baskets tied the Big 12 Tournament single-game mark set by the Cyclones (2000) and Oklahoma (2001).
"It was a great environment to play in with so many Iowa State fans here," Ezell said. "We came out a little slow but then got some open shots. They fell so we just kept shooting."
Iowa State took care of the basketball, committing a season-low five turnovers while forcing 20 Colorado miscues. Freshman Kelsey Bolte scored 19 points with three treys. Alison Lacey was superb running the Cyclone offense, scoring 13 points with a trio of threes and making a game-high 10 assists without a turnover. Iowa State finished the contest with a 27-5 scoring advantage off of turnovers.
ISU extended its 39-28 halftime advantage to 21 points with a 14-4 run to start the second half, leading 52-32 with 16:36 left in the game. Colorado, which was led by Jackie McFarland's 21 points in the post, never came closer than 14 points the rest of the way. When sub Anna Florzak hit Iowa State's last three of the game, ISU led 76-46 with 2:55 to go.
Iowa State came out cold to start the game. The Cyclones made just one of eight shots in the contest's first five minutes. Colorado led 8-4 after the first time-out before Iowa State pressure forced the Buffaloes into several turnovers.
Then Ezell went to work. With Iowa State holding a 19-16 lead, the Springfield, Mo., native scored eight straight points, including six on two three-point shots, to extend the Cyclone advantage to 27-19. Colorado fought back but Ezell, a junior guard, hit two more shots, the last another three that extended the Cyclone lead to 34-23 with four minutes left in the initial half.
When Bolte heaved an off-balance shot with the game clock at one second the ball banked in and the Cyclones ran into the lockerroom with a 39-28 lead at intermission.
Colorado struggled in transition as the Cyclones led 14-0 on points off turnovers in the first half before a vocal Iowa State crowd.